Talon News - Good Local News



August 25, 2017

Dorothy Nobis

Bloomfield City Manager in front of City Hall

The City of Bloomfield will remain under the leadership of City Manager Eric Strahl for one more year. The Bloomfield City Council renewed Strahl's contract at a regular meeting on August 14. Strahl was hired in August of 2015.

"Eric's been a good city manager and has upheld his part of the contract," said Bloomfield Mayor Pro Tem Matt Pennington. "He's got his feet on the ground and is getting traction on some of the things the way we (city council) see it."

It is Strahl's analytical abilities that make him a good city manager, Pennington added. "While the council reaches out to the people of Bloomfield and keeps a pulse on the community, Eric's analytical side helps us with the (financial) numbers. He does a good job of that," Pennington said.

Keeping the city stable and moving forward in the next year is a goal Pennington has for Strahl. "These last couple of years have been tough," the mayor pro tem said. "I hope the economy strengthens and levels out. We still need to be cautious and I hope Eric can keep us on track with that."

Strahl said he's enjoyed the opportunity to work for the City of Bloomfield for the past two years and is looking forward to another successful year. "There have been many challenges and the work has not been easy," Strahl said. "I appreciate the efforts of the (city's) department heads and all of the employees to bring the city through this economic downturn. Despite wage reductions and increased workloads, we continue to move the city forward, with the goal of building a better future for its residents."

Strahl's list of accomplishments, which he said are not just his, but were achieved through the efforts of the city staff working together as a team, include a variety of achievements.

While keeping the city financially responsible without cutting essential services is a major accomplishment, finances haven't consumed all of Strahl's time. "We've completed the first step in a new economic development strategy with a new municipal website, we're continuing the process of searching for a second water source, developing a plan to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and we're moving forward with the East Blanco Boulevard bridge replacement project," Strahl said. "We're continuing to move three important legal cases forward – the electrical utility litigation with the City of Farmington, the Ten Commandments lawsuit, and the litigation with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department."

Changes to the city's personnel policies and updating the employee handbook, revitalizing the city's fitness center, overhauling the city's Utilities Ordinance, improving the city's information technology structure by contracting out those services, and improving the city's ability to address building maintenance issues and to maintain municipal facilities are also on Strahl's list of accomplishments.

City Councilman DeLaws Lindsay said Strahl's job hasn't been an easy one in the last two years. "He's had a tough job and I'm happy to see him with us for another year," Lindsay said. "He's helped us (the city council) make good decisions that have kept the city moving forward."

With the city's budget still largely dependent on Gross Receipts Taxes (GRT) from the state, which have traditionally been boosted by the oil and gas industry, Lindsay said the city will continue to face financial challenges.

Those challenges also include payroll for city employees. Strahl's new contract did not include a salary or benefit increase, Lindsay said. "It's important we take care of all of our employees," Lindsay said. "No one gets a raise until our financial situation improves. We (the city council) hope the GRT changes so we can give back the pay cut we were forced to make on all employees' wages last year."

The lack of a salary increase this year isn't important to Strahl. "Last year, I voluntarily took a salary decrease of $10,250," he said. "Since all employees have taken a decrease, I do not believe that it is fair to accept a salary increase until the city can again increase the wages of all of its employees." Strahl's contract with the City of Bloomfield provides him with an annual salary of $100,000.


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